The other day I rode the MAX (Portland’s light rail) during peak hours. It was so crowded that I tried to make myself smaller by holding my breath as I stepped on. I held on to a pole in the center of the car along with about seven other people. Two of my fellow pole-holders were wimyn, just getting off work, discussing an upcoming party. They were both dressed very nicely, and I noticed the one closest to me was wearing a cashmere sweater so sumptuous it took many ounces of self-restraint not to reach out and pet her.
A few stops later a womyn struggled to board with two young children in tow. At this point it was so crowded that I had to put down my purse, hold it between my feet, and scoot my body as close to the pole as possible. And it was so crowded that the womyn who had just boarded cautioned her two kids, ‘Be careful not to touch anyone’s booty.’
Upon hearing this, Sumptuous Cashmere Lady (who had been describing the salad she would make for her party in great detail) stopped mid-sentence, scrunched her nose at the womyn and her kids, and rode in silence with a look of pure disgust the rest of the way.
Watching this go down made me livid. I thought to myself, ‘That womyn thinks saying “booty” is inappropriate and feels entitled enough to look down her nose at someone just because she said it!’ It was clear that the Perceived Potty Mouth did not mean to offend anyone with her use of the word. The way she spoke and the clothes she wore suggested she exists in a working-class environment where loudly telling your kids not to touch anyone’s booty is acceptable. From her perspective, she was doing everyone a solid, keeping their booties from being touched.
When the train jostled, my hand collided with Sumptous Cashmere Lady’s sweater, but instead of wanting to pet her, I wanted to pinch her for being so classist.
Gradually, the train got less crowded, and I was able to find a seat. I sat thinking about what I had just witnessed (blatant interpersonal classism) and what made it so (Sumptuous Cashmere Lady’s disgusted reaction, which expressed an I-am-better-than-you attitude).
Then, I heard someone start to chew gum loudly. ‘Gross!,’ I thought and began to turn my head to give the offender a look because nothing grosses me out more than loud eating noises. Then, I realized what I was doing. And so, I pinched myself.